How many days do I have again?

It’s hard to calculate how many days are between a certain day and another, especially if they are far apart. If your deadline to file a motion is 60 days before your hearing date on October 12th, 2015, what date is that? Luckily, there are several ways to determine that calculation. We’re going to cover Excel, Outlook, and a web tool called Timeanddate.com.

If you frequently need to keep track of court calendar deadlines, services like Deadlines.com (formerly Deadlines on Demand) or Juralaw (if you practice in Illinois) can keep the dates straight for a price. There are several ways to count how many days for free, however, and best of all you can use these tricks for all your deadlines—not just court specific ones.

 

The first is with Excel. In cell A1 type the date of your hearing: 10/12/2015. In cell B1 type “=A1-60” and hit enter. Excel will calculate the date automatically, changing the cell contents to say “8/13/2015.” If the date of your hearing changes, replace the date in cell A1 and the date of your filing deadline will automatically change with it.

excel screenshot

 

To find out if that date falls on a weekend, click cell B1, go to the cell formatting drop down menu under the Home tab and select “Long Date.”

long date excel spreadsheet

 

The cell data will change to tell you what day of the week 8/13/2015 is. In this example it is Thursday, but if it were on a weekend you could adjust your deadline as needed.

If you don’t have Excel handy, you can also add or subtract a date on the web. Timeanddate.com has several different calendaring calculators. Use their date calculator to add or subtract from a date. Still using the example of 60 days until your hearing date on 10/12/2015, enter 10/12/2015 as your start date. Select “(-) Subtract” from the dropdown menu, and enter “60” under “Days.”

subtractdateweb

Press “Calculate new date.” The result will be “Thursday, August 13, 2015.” Timeanddate.com also features calculators to determine the number of days between two dates, time duration between exact times and finding the week number of any date.

Finally, there’s Outlook.

Enter the October 12, 2015 hearing for your client on your calendar. After the appointment is on your schedule, bring up the Go To Date box by right clicking the date (or typing Ctrl – G if you’re a keyboard shortcuts person).

hearing for my client

In the box that appears, place your cursor before the date and type “60 days before”

60 days before

Press OK, and you will be brought to August 13, 2015, where you can now enter a new event for your motion filing deadline. You can also find out dates in the future by typing “x days after.”

Get on Track (With Track Changes)

Microsoft Word provides a handy feature for document collaboration called “Track Changes”. Used by professionals the world over, this functionality has many benefits and a few pitfalls. For instance, when receiving a document that has Track Changes enabled it is often difficult to read because of all the markup. Did you know that you can make it much easier to focus on important text changes by going to “Show Markup” and uncheck “Formatting”?

Turn off formatting markup in Track Changes

Turn off formatting markup in Track Changes

Track Changes with no format tracking is much easier to read

Track Changes with no format tracking is much easier to read

When you send out a document with Track Changes enabled you can click on the arrow in the Track Changes button and select “Change Tracking Options” to toggle off “Track Formatting” so your collaborator can have a cleaner copy of the changes too!

Turn off formatting in Track Changes when sending a tracked document

Turn off formatting in Track Changes when sending a tracked document

What if you forgot to turn on “Track Changes” when you sent out a document and now you want to see if there are changes in the returned document? No problem! In the Review tab, Compare group click Compare and choose “Compare” to do a side by side blackline of your document versus the one you’ve just received. In the options you can toggle off all formatting differences so you will have a clean comparison of the differences in the text, without formatting adding an unnecessary layer of complexity.

Options for Document Comparison

Options for Document Comparison

Compare feature show blackline, plus original and updated document in three panes

Compare feature show blackline, plus original and updated document in three panes

Want to learn more about using Track Changes? Check out this useful article from PC World article “How to track changes in Microsoft Word without going insane”.

How to unshorten and shorten links

unshortmeYou might be familiar with shortened links from social media or email. They’re handy for keeping things tidy and within a character limit, but you can’t see what you’re clicking on. What if the link is malicious or just a waste of time? Turn that short link into a long link with unshort.me and see where you’re going. Copy and paste the short URL into the text box, and the site will expand it for you. A Chrome extension is available, allowing you to right-click and unshorten any short link you see on the web.

Conversely, you may want to shorten links, either to make a character limit or clean up an email. For instance, the URL or link for the 2012 Law Practice Management & Tech Tips for Lawyers program is http://www.chicagobar.org/source/Meetings/cMeetingFunctionDetail.cfm?section=Calendar&product_major=C8215W&functionstartdisplayrow=1. Instead, to get to the same webpage you can shorten the link with Bit.ly to: http://bit.ly/1EaKaU7.  The first link is long, can’t really be read to someone, it breaks onto a new line, and is cumbersome. Bit.ly neatens it up.

bitly

There are many URL shorteners available for free on the web, such as ow.ly, goo.gl, and the originator of this technology, tinyurl.com, but Bit.ly has some really useful features. It has browser plugins for all major browsers so it is always available in one click.  You can also add notes to the link, create link bundles (see: http://bitly.com/bundles/catherinereach/3), create private links, share via email in one click, and also track whether people have clicked on the link. Finally, you can customize the link so the above Bit.ly link (http://bit.ly/1EaKaU7) can be: http://bit.ly/2015techtips.

Check it out and get your free account at http://bitly.com

Know What You Are Sending (With A Little Help) in MS Word

Microsoft can warn you  before sending, saving or printing a document with comments or tracked changes

Microsoft can warn you before sending, saving or printing a document with comments or tracked changes

Eighteen jurisdictions have ethics opinions on metadata.  All of them suggest that a lawyer who is sending an electronic document should take reasonable precautions to prevent disclosure of confidential information. While technically not metadata, the comments and tracked changes in a Microsoft Word document do present a significant opportunity to unintentionally expose  confidential information.  There are many ways to remove and reduce exposure of metadata, but one very important aspect is that the sender is aware of what is being sent. In some cases you may fully intend to send a document with comments and tracked changes.

Whether intentional or not, a notification that a document you are saving, sending, or printing has tracked changes or comments could be useful.  Fortunately you can do exactly that with a setting in MS Word.  In Word 2010-13 go to File – Options – Trust Center – Trust Center Settings – Privacy Options and check the box that says “Warn before printing, saving, or sending a file that contains tracked changes or comments”.

Once this option is checked if you click to save or save as, print to a physical printer or to PDF,  save to PDF or use a PDF conversion tool like Acrobat or Nuance, or use any command under the “Save and Send” menu you will get a warning that the document has either comments and/or tracked changes and asks you to click yes to continue.  However, the warning system is fallible because if you attach the file from an email program, such as MS Outlook you will get no notice.

How to Securely Use Dropbox in a Legal Environment

To view this post, you must be an active CBA member.

Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile in 2 Steps

LPMT Tip of the Month (January)

Got a LinkedIn profile? Maximize your efforts by doing two things.

1.) Go into Accounts & Settings – Privacy & Settings and click “Manage”.

privacysettings

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under “Helpful Links” click “Edit Your Public Profile”.

editpublicprofile

On the page that appears in the right column click on the pencil icon under “Your public profile URL”.

customurledit

 

 

 

 
Now, change the link to your personal profile from a generic link to one you choose.

typeinyourname

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Add your new public profile URL to your email signature block.

signatureblock

 

 

 

 

 

Voila, you’ll be connecting with more people in no time.

Technology Education at the Chicago Bar – May 2014

Computer learningFree How To… Sessions (Non-CLE)

CBA How To… sessions are crafted to provide you with an overview of a particular product, service or solution to a common law practice management question. These classes are delivered live, and via webcast online.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 

How To…Optimize Your Website for Mobile Phones
Time: 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM
Read Description & Register:    CBA Webcast

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

How To…Evaluate Cloud Case Management Systems
Time: 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM
Read Description & Register:   In-Person   CBA Webcast

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

How To…Billing and Accounting Reports
Time: 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM
Read Description & Register:   In-Person   CBA Webcast

 

Hands On Training (Non-CLE) $25.00 for CBA Members 

CBA Hands On Training classes are small group learning sessions open to all skill levels. Chelsey Lambert or Catherine Sanders Reach will lead you through a one hour course designed to equip you with the skills you need to accomplish or improve daily tasks.

05/13/2014 Optimizing Your Linkedln Profile (Hands’ On Training)
Time: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Read Description & Register:   In-Person 
05/14/2014 Google Search Like a Pro (Hands’ On Training)
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Read Description & Register:   In-Person 
05/15/2014 Creating a Monthly Email Newsletter (Hands’ On Training)
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Read Description & Register:   In-Person 
05/21/2014 Basic Adobe Acrobat for Lawyers (Hands’ On Training)
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Read Description & Register:   In-Person 
05/22/2014 Intermediate Adobe Acrobat for Lawyers (Hands’ On Training)
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Read Description & Register:   In-Person 
05/28/2014 Optimizing Your Linkedln Profile (Hands’ On Training)
Time: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Read Description & Register:   In-Person 
05/29/2014 Google Search Like a Pro (Hands’ OnTraining)Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Read Description & Register:   In-Person

 

Can’t make it to class?

Take advantage of the CBA’s free How To… video library. Every how To… session is recorded and available one to two weeks after the session’s original air date.

 

 

Email Encryption For Everyone

The recent confirmation that the US government, through the NSA’s PRISM surveillance, collects massive amounts of electronic data is really only the tip of the iceburg when viewed in light of all of the potential exposure email has to unauthorized access. From hackers to governments to law enforcement to targeted espionage to identity thieves, there are many who may want to access and view your email and its attachments.

Depending on the type of client you represent and the work you do unencrypted email exchange may not provide enough protection for confidential communication. The ABA’s formal opinion from 1999 on email encryption (99-413) generally allows for use of email to communicate with clients, but also provides the caveat that “when the lawyer reasonably believes that confidential client information being transmitted is so highly sensitive that extraordinary measures to protect the transmission are warranted, the lawyer should consult the client as to whether another mode of transmission is, such as special messenger delivery, is warranted..”

Much has changed since 1999. Commentary in the opinion states: “[t]he Committee believes that e-mail communications, including those sent unencrypted over the Internet, pose no greater risk of interception or disclosure than other modes of communication commonly relied upon as having a reasonable expectation of privacy. The level of legal protection accorded e-mail transmissions, like that accorded other modes of electronic communication, also supports the reasonableness of an expectation of privacy for unencrypted e-mail transmissions. ” Read in light of the known, legal interception of email transmission by the government and the increased use of webmail services that offer free service in exchange for access to the text of the email is it still reasonable to rely on an expectation of privacy and legal protection of email transmissions?

There are a variety of ways to encrypt email communications. For large firms working with corporate clients, firms representing governments, lawyers representing political prisoners and other circumstances may require an end to end encryption solution such as PGP to be set up and used by both parties. Once in place the process is relatively seamless. Lifehacker provides a great guide on end to end encryption for email clients and webmail..

However, lawyers who work with consumer clients including estate planning, family law, bankruptcy, criminal, real estate, civil rights etc. may not have a long term relationship with their clients or have the level of sensitivity in the communication that warrants a long term encryption key exchange. For those situations attorneys can still encrypt email on a short term or case by case basis by using some of the “on demand” email encryption options available. These tools are often free for limited use and while they do not provide the level of protection afforded by traditional email encryption they do provide some peace of mind. The article Easy Encryption for Email is Not an Oxymoron provides information on three such services that employ different models for protection. To see these easy encryption options in action check out the How To… video from the Chicago Bar Association’s LPMT.

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